Please upgrade your browser

For the best experience, you should upgrade your browser. Visit our accessibility page to view a list of supported browsers along with links to download the latest version.

Di Liu

MA work

Ming Chairs: Origin, Past and Present

This dissertation looks at Ming chairs. It explores the origins of chairs in China, how chairs reached the peak in the Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644) in terms of materials and design, and the transmission of Ming chairs to other countries such as Japan and Britain in the early modern period. It also traces how Ming chairs came to be known to the wider world since the twentieth century through a network of collectors, art dealers, auction houses and museum curators, and how Ming chairs have been interpreted by modern and contemporary designers. 

Ming chairs, although primarily associated with a Chinese identity, have become a transnational object. Ming chairs have evolved in history, transcended national boundaries, and embraced multiple identities. 


  • MA Degree


    School of Humanities


    MA History of Design, 2016

  • Degrees

  • LLB Law, University College London, 2014; BA Sociology, Peking University, China, 2011
  • Experience

  • Soapbox speaker, Victoria and Albert Museum Europe Galleries 1600–1815, V&A Friday Late, 2016; Guest lecturer, 'Hi Contemporary Art!' Lecture Series, Shenzhen Art Museum, China, 2015; Film editing volunteer for 'Unidentified Acts of Design', the Victoria & Albert Museum Pavilion project at Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture (UABB) in Shenzhen, China, 2015; Project co-leader, 'Museum of Materiality', AcrossRCA, Royal College of Art, London, 2015; Research volunteer, ‘Collection of Collections’, the British Pavilion project at Guadalajara International Book Fair in Guadalajara, Mexico, 2015; Chinese Art Department placement, Christie’s, London, 2015; Research assistant, Art Auction Laws Reform Project, ArtAsia, London, 2015; Exhibition researcher, ‘Chinese Medicine and Health Practices in the UK’, British Chinese Workforce Heritage, an oral history project at Ming-Ai Institute in London, 2014
  • Exhibitions

  • 'Museum of Materiality', AcrossRCA, Royal College of Art, London, UK, 2015; 'The Unfolded', AcrossRCA, Royal College of Art, London, UK, 2014; ‘Chinese Medicine and Health Practices in the UK’, Charing Cross Library, London, UK, 2014; Summer Foundation Exhibition, UCL Slade School of Fine Art, London, UK, 2013
  • Awards

  • French Ministry of Culture and Communication ACCR Odyssée Programme Residency, 2016; Victorian and Albert Museum Anthony Gardner Travel Fund, 2015; Design History Society Student Travel Bursary, 2015; Lee Wai Wing Scholarship, 2011; Erasmus Mundus External Cooperation Windows Scholarship, 2010; Li & Fung Scholarship, 2008; Gereg Scholarship, 2008
  • Publications

  • 'Exhibition Review: The Materialisation of An Ephemeral Experience', Unmaking Things (online), 2015